Can a thin person have body image struggles? Can a thin person be at war with their self-image? Can a thin person hate to look in the mirror?
And does that suck?
But the difference between these negative feelings and fatphobia is this: The only person worrying about whether or not I’m meeting beauty standards is me.
And that’s not the same for fat folk.
When you’re not thin, other people on the beach actually do take offense. When you’re not thin, people really do think that you shouldn’t be in a bathing suit. When you’re not thin, people really do make your body their moral obligation.
And while your internal struggle is real and significant, the point is: You might hate your body, but society doesn’t.
That’s thin privilege.
Yeah, I’m actually gonna call bullshit on this. What I see, as a man, looking in from the outside, knowing women of all different shapes and sizes, is that society polices all women’s bodies, be they fat, thin or somewhere in between. If a woman’s thin she can be “too thin” or she “needs to eat”…maybe she’s “dangerously thin.” You just have to look at magazines and you’ll see that one week there’s a photo spread pointing out celebrity women’s cellulite, the next it’s the female celebrities who have “gone too far” and are “dangerously thin”…then the next it’s famous women at the beach who’ve “let themselves go.” Our society functions to tell women that their bodies are wrong, no matter what shape they are (and, of course, will then sell them the products that will “fix” them). How many jokes have you heard about Madonna’s arms? Remember when Geri Halliwell lost all that weight and everyone said that she had the body of a little boy?
Our society constantly tells women that their bodies are wrong. They’re too fat, they’re too thin, their boobs are too small, or too big, they shouldn’t wear too much make up, but they should make an effort, real women have curves, but they should have a thigh gap.
This is how it seems to me - there’s no such thing as thin privilege. Because all women’s bodies are policed, all women’s bodies are seen as public property and fair game to be commented on. If you’re a woman and you have a body you are constantly being told that it is wrong, no matter what shape it is.
Sitting on the other hand of the scale: yeah, there’s thin privilege.
When I get up I have to dress up every day. Hair. Makeup. There is no running to walmart in sweat pants for me at 3am. Because I am not even treated as a human being if I don’t look like, despite my fatness (I am over 300 lbs) that I “take care of myself.” If I exercise I have people interrupting me telling me that it’s good that I’m “working on it.” Or doing something “good for myself.”
Every single thing I put into my mouth is monitored by those around me. If it is something healthy, like salad (which I actually LIKE. Brokaw22 and I talk on the phone sometimes about good salads we’ve eaten because we have no life and no friends, basically) I get a happy approval when the waiter takes the order. If I order something fried, I get the not-approving look. From everyone around me. And it’s considered perfectly OK by society for someone, a stranger, to come up to me and tell me how I don’t have a right to be eating that funnel cake/french fries/whatever because “that’s how you got as big as you are.” How I got as big as I am is no one’s business. It’s a bad deal of genetics, being on steroids for twenty years and ice cream being my only friend. Still. No one’s business.
I don’t wear bathing suits. I don’t go swimming. No one can make “let themselves go” comments about me because I don’t like going to the pool and being mocked by teenage boys, being glared at by women, and generally treated like a non-human being in general. I am treated in so many cases like I should not even be out in public until I am of an acceptable weight.
No, it’s not nice to have health concern trolls all over you. That you’ve gone too far, you’ve put on too much baby weight, that Scarlett Johanson, one of the most beautiful women in the world, has “cottage cheese thighs” Because everyone in the world has cellulite and everyone talks like it’s this horrible personality flaw.
That is the low level hum of our culture. No matter HOW you look, someone is going to comment how you should look differently. so and so is too thin, their hair looks awful with that dye job, why do they have a tramp stamp, why this, why that, they’d look so much better if… that is the background radiation of being a woman. Confusing signals constantly, and you’re damned, no matter what you do.
However, when you’re fat, your body is EVERYBODY’s business. Anyone can comment on it. Anyone can “encourage” me, or concern-troll me, or give me looks, or change my soda order, or comment on anything I say or do because I am fat. Not just fat, morbidly obese.
There we go, I said it. Morbidly obese. My BP today at the doc was 120/72 I guess that’s good or something cos that’s what it *always* is, unless I come in with breathing trouble in which case it is higher. So I guess other than having chronic life threatening asthma for which I am on so many steroids I sometimes Hulk out in unflattering ways I’m kinda sorta healthy. or at least my BP is normal-ish. No one sees that when they look at me though. No one sees a funny person, a smart, caring person. A person who fosters animals, a person who works without pay on weekends answering student research questions, someone who comes in early and stays late to teach classes… they don’t see someone with three degrees, working on a fourth. They don’t see ANY of that when they look at me. Especially when I show up at walmart with sleep-hair and sweat pants and yesterday’s t-shirt. They see someone who is poor, dirty, has let herself go, is unintelligent (don’t you know FAT IS UNHEALTHY AND WILL KILL YOU??? WELL THEN WHY ARE YOU STILL FAT?!) who is uneducated (see above), and who is generally a skuzzy human being.
The thing is, SOME people are going to say things about women they think are too thin, a little chunky, have mummy tummy, etc. And yeah, every woman’s body is public properly, but EVERYONE can be against fatness. It’s a “health concern.” They’re just “worried about your health.” Or they think they can determine your personality and intelligence level based on how shitty your hair looks and your BMI. Mine’s over fifty, btw. Hiiiiiii. No matter how I look, I’d be WRONG. And I was still wrong at 200 lbs as a teenager (I haven’t been below 200lbs since freshman year of high school) when I was only like 30 lbs overweight. People mocked me, and everything I wore and did. And I spent most of my adult years in the mid 200s. People treat you differently than when you’re 200 and merely chunky. Now that I’m 338, I am treated like I am not even a human being unless I press the issue. Yeah, I have to fight at every venue I go to, both wordlessly by how I dress and present myself, and sometimes WITH words, to be treated like I’m NOT all those things we think about women with short hair, big bodies and ruddy faces who wheeze when they’re walking and whose tummies move like a wave with every step they take. Why?? Cos that’s me. That’s exactly who I am. My tummy moves when I walk. Sometimes I wheeze. I basically have a big bowl of hair. Yeah, I have the fat kid hair cut.
People use fat as an insult and purgative. And when I look at them, they wave their hands in front of their faces. ” not you,” they say. Like I am a morally correct “fat person” and therefore I am either just “a person,” or I’m an honorary skinny person or some bullshit. Yes, acquaintances have mocked other fat people in front of me then said “but I don’t mean you.”
I’m tired of saying WHY I am fat. it shouldn’t matter why. It shouldn’t matter how much I walk, or how well I eat or if I’m fat because of health issues or fat because fried chicken is good. I should still be entitled to respect and being treated like a person. Without having my own students mock me the moment I turn my back on them.
Every fat person should be entitled to that. Even if they have stains on their shirt and talk slowly. But it’s not going to happen.
While there’s a bais against ALL women, women of a certain size/shape/acceptableness are playing the game on easy mode. That’s not saying there aren’t challenges and bosses, and handicaps that a male character wouldn’t have. But fat people are playing it on a different level of hardness. Even the NPC have shitty things to say about us as we move through the game. Slowly. With rolling bellies and stains on our shirts.